North East Wales

Llangollen and Dee Valley beauty status looms

Meetings are being held to discuss recognising Llangollen and the Dee Valley as areas of "outstanding natural beauty".

The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) wants to extend the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposal would incorporate rural Wrexham and Denbighshire communities.

Officials are asking people for their views. The first meeting is being held at Llangollen International Pavilion on Thursday from 1900-2100 BST.

"We think the area is outstanding already - but this is formal recoginition," said Ian Parry, Llangollen town clerk.

The CCW, in partnership with Denbighshire and Wrexham councils, are consulting on plans extend the area to cover southern parts of the Clwydian Range, the Vale of Llangollen and parts of Wrexham and the Dee Valley.

Keith Davies, CCW head of environment policy, said: "The proposed extended area has long been recognised as a landscape of outstanding quality, exceptional in terms of natural beauty.

"As an area of outstanding natural beauty, we hope this beautiful landscape and its ecosystem services can be managed in a sustainable way so that it remains special for the wellbeing of future generations."

Image caption Horseshoe Falls, the source of Llangollen Canal, part of which has been made a World Heritage Site

Currently, the landscape of the Clwydian Range stretches 160 sq km (100 sq m) from the Vale of Clwyd in the west to the foothills of the Dee estuary to the east, and from Prestatyn hillside in the north to the Nant y Garth pass in the south.

The CCW is looking to incorporate Wrexham communities Esclusham and Ruabon as well as Llantysilio Mountains, the Vale of Llangollen and the Dee Valley as far as Corwen and just north of Glyn Ceiriog.

Tourism worth £91m

In Llangollen, Mr Parry said the town council had broadly welcomed the plans but concerns had been raised as becoming an AONB imposes rules on future development and planning issues.

He said members had been reassured that regulations would not restrict development as long as they were "sympathetic" to the area.

It has been suggested that extending the AONB could be financially beneficial to the proposed new area.

Figures show that rural Denbighshire, which includes the Clwydian Range AONB, received 1.58m day visitors in 2006, and 365,000 overnight stays.

Tourism is worth £91m annually to Denbighshire and supports 1,770 jobs.

The CCW says the proposed extended area is of "outstanding quality, nationally and internationally important for their natural beauty and equally worthy of protection as an AONB".

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